(Photos and statement by Orange County Indiana Law Enforcement) – When engineers designed the iron bridge in Paoli they tried to account for lots of things. Unfortuantely they could not account for 23 year old Mary Lambright, a freshly minted CDL truck driver whose last name comically contains the word “bright”. You may think we’re being unnecessarily mean here but when you read the police statement below and see that she admitted to police that she saw the six ton weight limit signs and proceeded because she did not know how many pounds six tons represented you’ll understand our take a little better.
Her truck weighed more than 30 tons when she got the tractor onto the bridge and then began peeling the top of the too-tall-to-fit trailer off. Immediately thereafter the whole structure gave way and a bridge that was one of the last historical markers in the town of Paoli, a bridge that had been standing for more than 130 years, was reduced to scrap.
There are a few things to be noted here that happened before the calamity with the bridge went down. The first was a wrong turn which started a series of bad decisions that inexperienced drivers make. Following the wrong turn there were attempts to get the truck going in the right direction and those all failed. Instead of stopping and coming up with a plan, Lambright just kept digging a deeper and deeper hole. Should we mention that her 17-year old cousin was with her in the truck? We’re not sure that matters other than to mention there was a person who could have jumped out, stopped traffic, etc.
For 10 years of my life I worked jobs where I was in charge of guys driving trucks. From big heavy trucks filled with bottled water (like Mary was hauling) or smaller trucks with hazardous chemicals in them, it was a nerve wracking existence because I was always fearful of something like this happening. While Mary will have to pay a $135 fine, the company she drives for will be getting fried in legal hell for some time to come.
At the end of the day, though? The part that is incredibly maddening about this situation is the fact that the driver did not know how many pounds six tons was. She also clearly didn’t know how many pounds her truck weighed. If that does not make your head spin, we’re not sure what will.
Here’s the statement issued by the police and below that their photos –
On December 25, 2015, on or about 1200 hours, Mary Lambright, 23 year old female from Fredericksburg, Indiana was driving a 2015 Volvo Semi Truck with a 53 foot box trailer containing 43,000 pounds of bottled water. Ms. Lambright stated her intentions were to park her semi in the parking lot of the Paoli Wal-Mart. Lambright entered the square from East Main Street and missed the exit heading to Wal-Mart and exited onto West Main Street. Ms. Lambright then turned left onto Southwest 1st Street in an attempt to turn around. She travel down Southwest 1st and turned left onto South Gospel Street. She made several attempts to turn left on to South Oak Street but was unsuccessful. Ms. Lambright was aware of a parking lot further north on South Gospel Street and determined she could turn the truck around in the lot to get back to Southwest 1st Street. When she approached the parking lot she discovered it was full of heavy equipment and could not use it to turn around.
Ms. Lambright was aware of the iron bridge stating she had driven on it several times in her personal vehicle and was also aware of the posted signage “no semis, weight limit of 6 tons”. When asked by Paoli Police why she continued through the bridge knowing the weight limit was only 6 tons she admitted to not knowing how many pounds that was. She was advised the weight of the vehicle at the time of the crash was close to 30 tons. Ms. Lambright stated she wasn’t comfortable backing the semi up and made the decision to try to go through the bridge. When the semi entered the bridge the trailer immediately began ripping open due to the trailer was taller than the top of the bridge. As the vehicle continued the weight of the vehicle caused the bridge to collapse.
Ms. Lambright and her 17 year old female cousin, who was also in the vehicle, exited the vehicle and were unharmed. Ms. Lambright received her CDL endorsement on 5/12/2015. She currently works for Louisville Logistics out of Louisville, Kentucky. The vehicle and trailer were hauled to Wilcox wrecker service out of Salem, Indiana and is being held pending an inspection by the Indiana State Police.
Agencies/Companies involved in this incident are;
Paoli Police, Orange County Sheriff Department, Paoli Fire and Rescue, Paoli Town employees, IU Health, Wilcox Wrecker Service, Hankins Corvette Sales, and Kendell Trucking
Ms. Lambright is cited for the following;
Indiana code 9-21-8-50, reckless operation of Tractor-Trailer, a class B misdemeanor
Indiana code 9-21-8-41, disregarding a traffic control device, a class B infraction
Indiana code 9-20-7-1, overweight on posted bridge.